Dr. M. Deborrah Hyde, originally from Laurel, will receive the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio.
The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes an alumnus or alumna who has made distinguished and outstanding contributions to his or her profession or field of interest and, over the course of a lifetime, brought benefit to his or her community, humanity and honor to the university by embodying the values and spirit of Case Western Reserve University. This award is the highest honor bestowed by the Alumni Association.
Dr. Hyde became the nation’s second African-American woman brain surgeon in the nation.
After graduating valedictorian from Oak Park High School in Laurel, she majored in biology with a minor in chemistry and graduated from Tougaloo College in 1969. She then earned a master’s degree in developmental biology at Cleveland State University in 1973. Dr. Hyde completed her medical education in 1977 at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland and earned election into the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha honor Medical Society, which awards only the top 25 percent of each medical school’s graduating class nationwide. In 1982, she completed her training in neurosurgery during which she learned to perform surgery on the brain, spine and peripheral nerves.
In 1984, she became the first African-American woman to receive board certification from the American Board of Neurological Surgery.
She has received many awards throughout her career, including:
• 1990: National Council of Negro Women-“Black Women Who Make It Happen” presented at the White House, Washington, D.C., by Oprah Winfrey
• 1997: Tougaloo College bestowed Dr. Hyde the honorary degree of doctors of humane letters
Dr. Hyde, along with others, are imaged in stone in Rogers State Park, an honor from the Minority health Institute of Los Angeles. The “Promenade of Prominence Walk of Fame” serves as an inspiration to the children of Los Angeles.
In 2007, Dr. Hyde was featured in an article “The Second African-American Female Neurosurgeon” in the Journal of the National Medical Association.
Dr. Hyde has been featured in many national and international publications, including Ebony, Emerge, Esquire, American Medical News, Journal of National Medical Association, Brune, Medica, Black Enterprise and Forbes.
In 1984, she was featured in Esquire Magazine’s First Register “The Best of the new Generation-Men and Women Under Forty Who Are Changing America.” That same year, she penned her philosophy of life in a book edited by Philip Berman titled “The Courage of Conviction,” in which 33 prominent men and women’s beliefs are revealed, including Billy Graham and others.
Inspired by her grandmother’s spirit of generosity toward helping others achieve their dreams, in 1991, Dr. Hyde founded the Beacon of Hope Scholarship Foundation to provide a path for other young, underprivileged, talented minds to pursue their dreams of a college education. For more than 20 years, the foundation provided scholarships to deserving college-bound students in Laurel and her adopted city of Los Angeles.
Hyde’s perseverance and commitment enabled her to overcome intense sexism and racism to train at Case Western, becoming one of the first women to complete neurosurgery training in the state of Ohio and the second African-American woman to be board certified in neurosurgery. As the first woman to train under well-known Drs. Ratcheson and Spetzler, her determination, excellence and willingness to give back to her community continue to inspire women and men of all races.
Raised without most of the trappings of money, Hyde had something more important — love and support. She was of a strong, proud, intelligent, yet uneducated family. Her grandmother Annie Belle Huff and her mother Annie Eurydis Huff McDonald instilled in her a sense of pride, tenacity and a desire for life’s higher goals.